Mental health reform needs to be at the top of the priority list for the state legislature. Mental health issues affect nearly every resident of the First District in one way or another. The current legislature has failed to adequately address the issues facing our most vulnerable citizens. We need to implement policies to provide these members of our state with the assistance they need.
The legislature is in a unique position to address these issues head on and, with the cooperation of local towns and cities, should be coming up with common sense and effective policies. Instead, the current legislature has passed a budget which it claims provides additional funding for mental health issues. They leave out the fact that the state is sanctioned to millions of dollars in penalties every month for violating the due process rights of individuals deemed to lack the mental capacity to understand the charges against them or assist in their defense. An issue that could be easily remedied by a simple statutory amendment.
Progressive policy-making doesn’t end with social issues. I believe progressive values can be further advanced with a realistic understanding of what is happening in our state. Homelessness is a much larger issue than meets the eye. Housing prices in King and Snohomish Counties are pricing people out of the area. Business and residential development is the most logical way to address these issues.
We need more effective low-income housing policies in the District, and throughout the State. The Legislature has taken action related to zoning regulations on a number of occasions, and regulations requiring additional mixed-use or multi-family housing is the next logical step. As part of the metro area, we in the First District need to be prepared to feel the increasing effects of the housing crisis in Seattle. The best preparation is to pass legislation at the State level that addresses the issue from the bottom up. This will be one of my top priorities in the Legislature.
The only way to effectively put additional housing to use in our District is to ensure jobs remain in the region. To do that, we need to find a balance between business interests and social issues. Contrary to common rhetoric, these interests are not at odds. Increased access to jobs leads to greater economic prosperity for businesses and individuals in the region.
As we’ve seen, taxing jobs without adequate planning for use of the funds collected is an ineffective method for addressing the current issues faced by the State and in our region. We need to protect the jobs in our region by supporting common sense regulations on local tax implementations, thereby promoting job growth and business expansion in the area. This type of policy implementation will lead to increased access to better jobs, a reduction in working class families forced into homelessness, and greater access to social programs for those in need.